So this is the first instalment of what will become a regular feature here at What Culture, where I will be looking past those heroes we drive through storylines, the ones who save the world, get the girl, and are generally ‘epic’.
Instead I’ll be taking a look at the sometimes celebrated, but sometimes overlooked Unsung Heroes of Gaming. These will be the guys, girls, objects, evil corporations and such who are often left in the wake of the protagonist. They may remain faithfully at the side of the story’s hero, or only appear now and again, but they’ll have made some kind of impact nonetheless.
To kick things off I went for a recent game in the form of Mafia II, and maybe rather predictably the man to feature this week is the one and only, Joe Barbaro.
Okay so maybe Joe isn’t entirely ‘unsung’ so to speak, he does feature in his own DLC for the game, but he is still essentially a side-kick of sorts to Vito Scaletta, except if it wasn’t for Joe then maybe there wouldn’t be the story of Mafia II at all.
Joe put Vito on the life of crime, so to speak, at a young age. The two clicked, remained friends, and when Vito returns from the war its Joe that draws him back to the criminal life. Throughout the game it’s clear that the two look out for each other, with Vito thinking things through more while Joe is a ‘shoot first ask questions later’ kinda guy.
It’s because of this that much of the game wouldn’t happen without Joe, as on occasions it’s his rash decisions that make for an interesting turn in the story. He acts as contrast to Vito, and many other members of the organisation. This becoming even more apparent when he mourns the loss of characters other members of the organisation merely show indifference to.
While he’s not the kinda guy who will win any beauty contests, and regardless of his awful fashion sense, he is portrayed as something of a charmer. In a way he seems like a genuine guy, which is credit to the guys at 2K Czech, for developing a multi-faceted character.
With the end of Mafia II seemingly being the end of Joe, I can’t have been the only one hoping that somehow this would just be another predicament he works his way out of. Hopefully we’ll find out with the somewhat inevitable sequel.
Joe is featured here because without him Mafia II would be somewhat hollow. Besides, who else is going to help get Vito in trouble.
Want to suggest an unsung hero? It’s as easy as leaving a comment.